Trap Door Theatre presents
Written by Heiner Muller
Translated by Carl Weber
Music composed by Jonathan Guillen
Directed by Max Truax
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Thru February 26th
Running Time: Seventy minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
‘I am Hamlet.’ I AM Hamlet.’ ‘I am HAMLET!’ To-be-or-not-to-be gets skewed when three guys claim they are the Prince of Denmark. Trap Door Theatre presents HAMLETMACHINE. ‘Something is rotten in Denmark.’ The nation is in disarray. Murder. Suicide. Betrayal. Hamlet is enshrouded in destructive madness. Who to trust? His country? His mother? His girlfriend? Himself? Playwright Heiner Muller wrote a nine page script loosely based on William Shakespeare’s classic. Set to music, Trap Door Theatre’s HAMLETMACHINE is a melodious spiral into the lunacy of having been or not been.
Director Max Truax directs the insanity with poetic disintegration and supernatural undertones. Truax keeps the six actors fluid playing three roles. Truax blurs the illusion of identity, gender and even theatrical reality. Who is who? She’s him? He’s her? Is the ‘machine’ aspect about the plethora productions churning out Hamlet? (One of the Hamlets announces ‘I am an actor…I’m not playing anymore. The words don’t mean anything.’) Or is it desire to gut the visceral feelings to avoid drama. The one and only Gertrude, Lindsay Rose Kane plays Hamlet’s mama with an eerie eroticism. Doubling as the choreographer, Kane created a provocative and disturbing dance that she performs ritualistically with each Hamlet. Splitting his personality, the Hamlets each take on a specific persona. Antonio Brunetti broods as a confused young version. Rich Logan rages with wild intensity. David Steiger disconnects in indifference as Hamlet and as an actor playing a role. The distinctions are beautifully evident in the dance with Kane. Playing Ophelia in duality, Sadie Rogers chases Hamlet with schoolgirl desperation and Tiffany Joy Ross seduces him with otherworld sensuality.
Jonathan Guillen has composed a haunting score. The repetitive dark soundtrack accentuates the mystical aspect of death. As the sound designer, Guillen’s music volume competes at times with the vocal capacity of a singer. The lyrics are simplistic and recurring so the meaning is not lost. Production designer Richard Norwood wraps the stage in plastic-covering stretched across multiple framed entryways. It has the visual essences of abandoned buildings as a decaying Denmark. Sections are separately lit as a stage entrance for different characters producing a spooky, haunting effect. Costume designer Nevena Todorovic takes on the plastic tarp theme with the women. Underneath Gertrude’s royal velvet garb is a see-through petticoat. Ophelias’ hoop skirts are also clear cellophane. The effect is a trashy combination of body bag and condom. The Hamlet-Ophelia pairing insists ‘what you have killed, you should also love.’ Truax makes Trap Door Theatre’s HAMLETMACHINE a well-oiled deadly sexy fantasy.
Production photographs by Michal Janicki.